Allahpundit, whom I am going to have to get used to calling “Nick Catoggio,” has established his newsletter at The Dispatch. It is titled “Boiling Frogs” and I have bookmarked it so that it can be the first thing I read every day. I recommend you do the same. In an introductory post, Nick explains the meaning of the phrase and its relevance to his topic, which will largely be politics in a populist age:
The title of this newsletter, by the way, comes from the urban legend about how frogs supposedly behave when dumped into a pot of water. If the water is boiling, they’ll leap right out. But if the water starts off lukewarm and the temperature rises gradually, the slight incremental changes will be imperceptible moment to moment and the frogs will ultimately boil alive. It’s nonsense, of course; frogs have the good sense to act when an unpleasant environment turns dangerous. We, however, might not.
On that note, I leave you with a question: At what point should a candidate’s illiberalism become disqualifying? Vance is on the ballot in Ohio. Election deniers like Kari Lake and Doug Mastriano are one race away from governing swing states. Trump diehards across the map have been nominated for secretary of state, which would place them in charge of their state’s election machinery in 2024. Trump remains the party’s presumptive nominee for president notwithstanding his coup attempt on January 6, 2021 and his habit of threatening violence if the justice system challenges his belief that he’s above the law. And if he ends up losing the next primary, it’ll only be because Ron DeSantis has convinced Republicans that he’ll be as ruthless in flouting civic norms as Trump would be when prosecuting the culture war.
The temperature of the water is getting hotter. How sure are you that you know what your party’s candidates are capable of? When should a conservative voter leap out of the pot?
Great minds think alike (GMTA), and sometimes, so does mine (ASSDM). In June I wrote a post titled The Boiling Frog which read, in its entirety, as follows:
He called for violence at his rallies! Eh, it’s OK.
He treated the U.S. government like his own personal piggy bank! Eh, it’s OK.
He extorted the president of Ukraine for political favors! Eh, it’s OK.
He refused to accept the results of a fair election! Eh, it’s OK.
He stirred up a mob to invade the Capitol! Eh, it’s OK.
He approved of a mob chanting to kill his Vice President! Eh, it’s OK.
The metaphor of the boiling frog is based on a tale that is not real. A frog placed in water that is gradually heated will jump out before the water reaches the boiling point and kills the frog.
And in September 2020, 46 days before the election, I wrote this in the wake of a report that Trump had offered Julian Assange a pardon in exchange for information about the 2016 hacking of Democrats:
Trump fans, you can play your game about the librul media and the sourcing and how Rohrabacher was a rogue agent acting without authorization and the thing. Just go in the corner and keep your voices down. Adults are talking.
Before the frog was boiled, information suggesting that the president had explicitly offered to trade an exercise of his power for political purposes would have stunned the world. In fact, just such a revelation led to this president’s impeachment.
But since, we have learned that members of his party in the Senate will vote to keep him in office regardless of what he does, and he has piled atrocity upon atrocity, so that a staggering betrayal like this just seems like another day. Commute Roger Stone’s sentence so he won’t spill the beans about Trump’s communication with Wikileaks? Yawn. Command your troll of a U.S. Attorney to open an investigation into why your criminality was investigated, with the intent of releasing a “report” (which prosecutors who aren’t special counsels don’t do) just before the election? No big deal.
I’m told real frogs actually jump out as the temperature rises. The boiling frog thing is just a fable. We can still jump out, folks. We have 46 days.
We jumped out, all right. But a lot of people are looking at that water, dipping their little green webbed toes in it, and deciding it just may be time to jump back in.
Note well, I am not accusing AllahNick of stealing my idea; the metaphor is pretty obvious, and he does more with it than I ever did. This is entirely a GMTAASSDM situation.
Nick’s latest, this morning, is about the GOP normies’ embrace of kookism, as evidenced by Glenn Youngkin deciding to campaign for absurd crank and election denier Kari Lake. Nick describes the mutually parasitic relationship of the kooks and the normies with an unforgettable metaphor — unforgettable, that is, if you are old, like Nick and I both are:
The kooks and the normies are engaged in a sort of credibility swap, each leveraging their authority over their respective wing of the party to benefit the other. Which raises the question: If you’re one of the 58 percent who consider yourself more a supporter of the Republican Party than of Donald Trump, which Republican Party do you mean? The one in which Kari Lake is endorsed by Glenn Youngkin or the one in which Glenn Youngkin is endorsed by Kari Lake? How meaningful is that distinction?
Readers of a certain age will recall the old Reese’s commercials. The great philosophical question of whether he got chocolate in her peanut butter or she got peanut butter on his chocolate ultimately doesn’t matter. It’s the same flavor either way.
If I have one issue with the metaphor, it’s that a Reese’s peanut butter cup is delicious, whereas the GOP normies’ embrace of kookism leaves me feeling queasy.
There is plenty of commentary out there that describes the embrace of kookery from a realistic perspective: “Trump fans are a significant part of the party, and one cannot alienate them if one wants to achieve policy goals . . . and after all, what do you want? Democrats in power?” This is the sort of commentary one can expect from a Charles C.W. Cooke or a Dan McLaughlin, both of whom I personally like and whose writing I admire. But I categorically disagree with their approach and see it as short-sighted for the reasons described in Allahpun–er, “Nick’s” most recent post.
I see some folks complain that focusing on the kookery of the Trump wing of the GOP amounts to giving Democrats a free pass. I don’t think that’s fair. I think it’s a matter of putting things in perspective. Trump actually tried to steal an election. That’s kind of a big deal. Literally nothing any national Democrat has done in my lifetime comes close — and I say that as someone who was a lifetime Republican until the very day Ted Cruz withdrew from the 2016 primary race. To compare Trump’s attempted election theft to, say, Joe Biden’s cancellation of student debt — as outrageous and illegal as that is — is to complain about the mote in the Democrats’ eye while ignoring the beam in our own. To paraphrase the advice given in the Sermon on the Mount: GOP, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of the Democrats’ eye.